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Military Medicine and the Making of Race
Life and Death in the West India Regiments, 1795–1874

£29.99

  • Date Published: August 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108797139

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About the Authors
  • This book demonstrates how Britain's black soldiers helped shape attitudes towards race throughout the nineteenth century. The West India Regiments were part of the British military establishment for 132 years, generating vast records with details about every one of their 100,000+ recruits which made them the best-documented group of black men in the Atlantic World. Tim Lockley shows how, in the late eighteenth century, surgeons established in medical literature that white and black bodies were radically different, forging a notion of the 'superhuman' black soldier able to undertake physical challenges far beyond white soldiers. By the late 1830s, however, military statisticians would contest these ideas and highlight the vulnerabilities of black soldiers instead. The popularity and pervasiveness of these publications spread far beyond British military or medical circles and had a significant international impact, particularly in the US, both reflecting and reinforcing changing notions about blackness.

    • Highlights the importance of the West India Regiments in changing attitudes towards race
    • Demonstrates the crucial role of black soldiers in the evolution of racial thought over the nineteenth century
    • Links racial thought with medical thought to show how race became fixed in the body in the nineteenth century
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    Reviews & endorsements

    `In this brilliant, perceptive and deeply researched meditation, Tim Lockley shows how the famous West Indian regiments in the Age of Revolution and beyond were crucial in reshaping European attitudes to the racial and medical capacities of black men. His thought-provoking and compelling thesis argues that racial thinking evolved as much through contemplating black soldiers as through the lens of enslavement. Ever stimulating, Military Medicine and the Making of Race encourages us to question what we thought we knew about race thinking.' Trevor Burnard, University of Hull

    'This important study sheds new light on the West India Regiments, demonstrating how racial and medical debates underpinned their creation and informed the selection, treatment and the daily lives of the African troops who served. By telling this story, Lockley demonstrates the medical and other hardships experienced by African soldiers, and provides a fresh perspective on how and why the British relied on these regiments to extend their imperial power.' Deborah Neill, University of York

    'In clear and accessible prose, Lockley offers cogent analysis of the role the WIR [West India Regiments] and, importantly, the physicians who administered to their men, played in the making of race. Lockley ably mines the rich records generated by the WIR's officers and medical practitioners to chart the evolution of assumptions and attitudes regarding blackness that developed as a result of their comparison of white and black bodies – and the influence these shifting racial ideologies had beyond the bounds of the WIR.' Maria Alessandra Bollettino, Framingham State University, Massachusetts

    '… a detailed examination of … notions of race.' R. T. Ingoglia, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108797139
    • length: 221 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.304kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    1. Medical necessity and the founding of the West India Regiments
    2. The ideal soldier
    3. The use and abuse of the black soldier
    4. Statistics and the reinterpretation of black bodies
    5. Dehumanising the black soldier
    6. Damage done: the Asante campaigns
    Conclusion.

  • Author

    Tim Lockley, University of Warwick
    Tim Lockley is Professor of North American History at the University of Warwick and the author of Lines in the Sand: Race and Class in Lowcountry Georgia, 1750–1860 (2001), Welfare and Charity in the Antebellum South (2007) and Maroon Communities in South Carolina (2009).

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